Thursday 28th February
After an evening with friends and too much drink, and a row about a girl, my twin brother Patrick gets into his car and drives round Cambridge. He’s stopped for speeding, and fails a breathalyser test.
At some stage, after being put in the back of the police van, just as it has started moving, he allegedly stands up and opens the door. The police say he landed on his feet, then hit his head on the kerb. He’s taken to Addenbrooke’s hospital.
My mother’s informed, and her friend Peter Head drives her to Cambridge. Unusually, I decided before going to bed to turn the ringer on the phone off, and the answering machine down. So I miss the call in the middle of the night, and don’t discover the news until I wake up on Friday morning.
Friday 1st March
When I hear from my mother, it doesn’t sound too bad. Patrick has a head injury, but he’s in a specialist unit at Addenbrooke’s. Mother says it could be months for recovery, and she’ll be there for as long as it takes. There was apparently some sign of activity in the brain scan, so it’s grim, but not too bad.
I’m out of work, living in Charlton. I manage to ring round and find a friend who can drive me to Cambridge on the Saturday. Frankly, this gives me a bit of time to get myself together.
Saturday 2nd March
My friend James Southward drives me from London to Cambridge in his silver mini. When we arrive, my mother sits down with us in a side room, and breaks the news that Patrick’s not going to survive. His injury is too severe, and he’s effectively brain dead; what we thought was activity yesterday was probably more like a final spasm.
I go into Cambridge to buy some extra clothes, and bump into some people who know Patrick. They think I’m him at first, and I have to explain the situation.
Sometime during this day I also meet Martin Kelly for the first time. He’s the chaplain at Patrick’s college, Selwyn. He looks like he’s seen a ghost when he first lays eyes on me, thinking it’s Patrick up and out of bed.
Sunday 3rd March
Peter is hanging around, and from overhearing parts of my conversations with the nursing staff and with Martin Kelly realises that I’m gay. He makes some homophobic comments, which really aren’t what I need. I later learn he tried to out my to my mother, who told him she already knew.
Later, an evening off. I have slightly mixed feelings about this, given what’s going to happen tomorrow. But it’s also hard sitting around the hospital, unable to be myself, and with that awful man there. So, I go with Michael Gray to the Grad Pad for evening. And, frankly, it’s good to get away from Addenbrookes.
It’s either Saturday or Sunday when the transplant team talk with us, about whether or not we’ll consent to organ donation, and the process is explained. Brain death has to be certified by another consultant, who hasn’t been involved in treating the patient. This, we are told, will probably happen on Monday.
Monday 4th March
A day waiting. We expected the second opinion today, and with it the formality of what’s going to happen. This is possibly the most stressed I have ever felt. And though we wait, and ask, no one appears. They’re too busy to find the time to come and do the examination.
I have been sleeping in a family room at the hospital. And now there is an actual family in it, and frankly they are being too cheerful to bear, asking questions, being bright and perky, and concerned. I manage to persuade someone to find me somewhere I can sleep alone.
Tuesday 5th March
A stressful morning waiting for the second opinion that didn’t come the day before. Eventually, sensing our distress, Martin Kelly tells the staff that if no one comes to do the test soon, we’ll withdraw consent for organ donation.
Finally, that prompts them into action, and the necessary is done: Patrick is declared brain dead in the early afternoon. We say our goodbyes to him in the head injury unit, and I take the train back to London, where I’m met by Robert-John Evans, and go back to his place in Honor Oak Park. I stink; I’ve not had a bath for days.